Winter Storm 2021

News

Agency News Items - 2021

March

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for December 2020

    March 04, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for December 2020 came from 168,775 oil wells and 86,267 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from January 2020 to December 2020, total Texas reported production was 1.461 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.197 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 December 2020 Statewide Production*

    PRODUCT

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    109,004,525 BBLS (barrels)

    3,516,275 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    725,311,065 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    23,397,131 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

     

    TABLE 2 December 2019 Statewide Production

    PRODUCT

    UPDATED REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    UPDATED AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    PRELIMINARY AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    142,153,369 BBLS

    4,585,593 BBLS

    102,260,868 BBLS

    3,298,738 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    935,313,958 mcf

    30,171,418 mcf

    707,644,526 mcf

    22,827,243 mcf

     

    TABLE 3 December 2020: Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CRUDE OIL (BBLS)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    15,481,418

    2.

    MARTIN

    10,265,372

    3.

    HOWARD

    6,978,021

    4.

    KARNES

    6,598,087

    5.

    REEVES

    6,312,374

    6.

    UPTON

    6,061,095

    7.

    LOVING

    4,807,186

    8.

    LA SALLE

    4,103,124

    9.

    GLASSCOCK

    3,796,826

    10.

    WARD

    3,675,984

     


    TABLE 4 – December 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    TOTAL GAS (MCF)

    1.

    REEVES

    78,821,949

    2.

    MIDLAND

    50,002,902

    3.

    PANOLA

    35,277,564

    4.

    CULBERSON

    34,665,233

    5.

    WEBB

    34,000,367

    6.

    LOVING

    30,601,049

    7.

    TARRANT

    26,505,282

    8.

    MARTIN

    24,128,858

    9.

    UPTON

    23,643,968

    10.

    REAGAN

    22,908,066

     

    TABLE 5 – December 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CONDENSATE (BBLS)

    1.

    REEVES

    5,672,473

    2.

    LOVING

    3,203,184

    3.

    CULBERSON

    2,833,092

    4.

    DE WITT

    1,149,639

    5.

    KARNES

    677,430

    6.

    WEBB

    614,858

    7.

    DIMMIT

    264,046

    8.

    LIVE OAK

    227,162

    9.

    MCMULLEN

    168,914

    10.

    LA SALLE

    160,051

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $700,000 in Penalties

    March 03, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $718,896 in fines involving 200 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Feb. 23. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Four dockets involved $121,908 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $135,888 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $461,100 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

    About the Railroad Commission

    Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit http://www.rrc.texas.gov.

February

  • Railroad Commission Keeping Tabs on the Potential for Hikes in Gas Bills

    February 19, 2021

    AUSTIN – As the state recovers from the severe winter storm the RRC is continuing its daily contact with energy producers, pipeline operators, and electric regulators to provide the support they need for natural gas deliveries to help Texans.

    Utilities have been purchasing gas to deliver to customers in a commodities market in which prices dramatically increased due to the extremely high demand brought on by the prolonged storm.

    The Commission is working with utilities, consumer groups and others to avoid situations where customers may get unusually high bills in the coming weeks.

    “As Texans recover from the devastating effects of Winter Storm Uri, I am committed to utilizing all of the tools available to this agency to assist in the coming weeks,” said RRC Chairman Christi Craddick. “The Railroad Commission will be exploring all options in order to reduce the financial burden on Texans as we tackle the challenges that lie ahead together.”

    “Texans have gone through enough hardship during this winter storm without having to worry about unexpected additional energy costs,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “Our agency will do everything in our power to ensure utilities have plenty of time to get caught up on these unexpected expenses, so consumers are not unduly burdened.”

    “We understand that there are multiple issues impacting Texans as we begin to move out of this extreme winter weather,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “I am committed to working with my colleagues and the commission staff to do everything in our power to ease these burdens on all Texans and work with other state and local entities to ensure we learn from this week’s events.“

    Last weekend the RRC also sent a notice to natural gas utilities under Commission’s jurisdiction authorizing them to set up regulatory accounts that could be used in rate proceedings which will be reviewed by the Commission as appropriate.

  • Spending Should Have Prioritized Reliability

    By Commissioner Wayne Christian
    February 19, 2021

    Everything is so politicized these days that it is tough to decipher facts from opinions about what happened this week with the winter storm. 

    It’s easy to blame ERCOT — and yes, their actions led to the blackouts in part — but the full story is much more complex. One night of bad decisions would not have had such devastating consequences had it not been for decades of poor policy decisions prioritizing unreliable renewable energy sources at the expense of reliable electricity — something Texans now know is essential to our everyday lives.

    I have seen a lot of media reports claiming the issue was a decrease in power generated from natural gas, but when you look at the numbers that is just not true.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the hourly average of net power generation from gas went from 17,602 mw before the storm (2/1-2/12) to 33,310 during the storm (2/12-2/17), meaning generation from natural gas basically doubled as demand increased. (1)

    Many are blaming fossil fuels because "wind power was expected to make up only a fraction of what the state had planned for during the winter."(2) This is the problem. Investments in infrastructure are paid for by electricity customers and taxpayers, and our state spent more than $7 billion to build out the CREZ Transmission Lines for wind and solar generation.

    This means resources that could have otherwise been spent making our grid more resilient to weather — or adding reliable generation from natural gas, nuclear, or clean coal to keep up with increasing demand for electricity — were instead spent on building out transmission lines for intermittent forms of energy that were "never expected" to perform during times like these. 

    The issue isn't the existence of renewable energy, but that it has displaced reliable generation that makes up our "base load," not through natural market forces but through massive subsidies and punitive regulatory policies from progressives in Washington, D.C. In 2009, “coal-fired plants generated nearly 37 percent of the state’s electricity while wind provided about 6 percent. Since then, three Texas coal-fired plants have closed… In the same period, our energy consumption rose by 20 percent.”(3)

    Everyone loves to tout the phrase “all the above” — until it includes energy sources perceived as “dirty,” like coal, or "scary," like nuclear. However, these energy sources are both extraordinarily safe and dependable in adverse weather conditions like Texas is facing now because one of their key features is on-site storage. If the "all the above" wind and solar advocates are serious about anything more than receiving subsidies, why are they opposed to nuclear, which can produce massive amounts of energy with a ZERO carbon footprint?

    There is no single reason we are in the mess we are in now; it is a multifaceted perfect storm. However, every time the government picks winners and losers in business and innovation, it is the average citizens that lose. This week was a wakeup call that there is more to energy policy than the politics of climate change. 

    1) https://mcusercontent.com/ec5dd75d998816c4f8464c9a5/files/8f37e5af-7b57-45ad-9dbb-4c7f7d0eb850/EIA_Data.xlsx
    2) https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/16/texas-wind-turbines-frozen/
    3) https://comptroller.texas.gov/economy/fiscal-notes/2020/august/ercot.php

  • Statement on RRC Commissioners’ Extension of Emergency Order to Assist Texans During Winter Storm

    February 17, 2021

    AUSTIN – Statement on action by RRC commissioners extending assistance to Texans during the winter storm:

    The safety and protection of Texas residents is of utmost importance to the RRC. During this severe winter storm, the RRC has been in constant contact daily with energy producers, energy utility companies, pipeline operators, Public Utility Commission of Texas and other state agencies to provide the support they need for natural gas deliveries to help Texans. Commissioners took a proactive step to prioritize natural gas deliveries for human needs with an emergency order last Friday, Feb. 12. This evening, in an open meeting, commissioners extended the emergency order until Tuesday, Feb. 23.

    The emergency order passed last Friday and extended today continues to elevate natural gas deliveries to electric generation facilities serving human needs customers to a higher priority. This action helps ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period. The Commission took this action to help protect public health and safety during this extreme weather event.

    The emergency order can be found at this link: https://rrc.texas.gov/media/lkwfnpqw/emergency-order-021721-final-signed.pdf.

  • Railroad Commission Working to Help Energy Production, Supply During Winter Storm

    February 15, 2021

    AUSTIN – As Texas endures a harsh winter storm, the RRC is actively engaged in daily calls with other state agencies, oil and gas producers, pipeline systems, and utilities throughout the state’s energy and electricity supply chain. Some producers, especially in the Permian Basin and Panhandle, are reportedly experiencing unprecedented freezing conditions and intermittent power loss which caused concerns for employee safety and affected production. 

    The RRC, industry, and other state and local entities are working together to keep tabs on supply and demand and make necessary adjustments to ensure Texans are safe and warm. As part of the statewide response, RRC commissioners issued an emergency order on Friday evening to prioritize gas supplies to facilities serving human needs. RRC also issued a notice asking oil and gas operators to monitor and maintain operations as safety permits.

    Residents and businesses can also take some important steps to reduce power demand and help the current situation. Read more about conservation recommendations on our website.

  • Statement on Action by RRC Commissioners to Assist Texans During Winter Storm

    February 12, 2021

    AUSTIN – Statement on action by RRC commissioners to assist Texans during the winter storm:

    The safety and protection of Texas residents is of utmost importance to the RRC. As an exceptional winter weather system sweeps across Texas, the Commission took action to ensure that Texas families and businesses can stay warm. RRC commissioners during an emergency meeting Friday night temporarily amended Rule 2 of Order 489 to elevate electric generation facilities serving human needs customers to a higher priority. This action was taken to ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period.  The Commission took this action to prioritize the protection of public health and safety during this extreme weather event.

    The signed order can be found at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/cw3ewubr/emergency-order-021221-final-signed.pdf

  • RRC Commissioners Assess Nearly $500,000 in Penalties

    February 11, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $499,155 in fines involving 118 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Feb. 9. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Seven dockets involved $197,955 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $35,300 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $265,900 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • RRC, TCEQ Team Up to Streamline Permitting Process

    Agencies’ Collaboration Nets State Full Authority for Discharge Permits
    February 10, 2021

    AUSTIN – In the years since unconventional drilling became more common, oil, gas, and pipeline operators have had an increased need to discharge produced or other sources of waste water.

    In order to obtain a permit for surface water discharges, operators may have needed to apply to both the Railroad Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. For related environmental activities, such as surface water rights, they might need to contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Potentially dealing with three agencies may have been time-consuming and detracting from core business activities.

    But at the direction of the 86th Texas Legislature via House Bill 2771, the RRC began working with the TCEQ in 2019 to help that agency gain primacy from the EPA for all surface water discharge issues in the state.

    On Jan. 15, that work culminated in RRC transferring certain discharge permitting to surface waters of the state for produced water, hydrostatic testing, and gas plant effluent to the TCEQ and EPA granting TCEQ authority to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program in Texas. Operators should now submit applications for these permits to TCEQ.

    “This greatly benefits the energy industry in our state by making the regulation easier to understand for our operators,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “Through our planning with the TCEQ, we were successful in that EPA agreed to delegate this NPDES program and transfer its authority to Texas.”

    Obtaining a permit for certain discharges to surface water has become much simpler for the oil and gas industry. For instance, before the current permitting process took effect, to conduct hydrostatic testing on a pipeline to ensure its integrity, an operator needed to get a permit from RRC and EPA to release any discharge to a surface water body and call a TCEQ regional office to obtain permission to use surface water for the testing. Now, operators will only need to contact TCEQ.

    RRC does retain certain regulatory authority in water discharge, such as surface application of wastewater that does not impact the waters of the state and the recycling of domestic wastewater. More information can be found on RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/applications-and-permits/environmental-permit-types/minor-permits-hydrostatic-test-discharges-domestic-wastewater-and-other-permits/.

    For information about surface water discharge for the oil and gas industry, visit the TCEQ’s webpage at https://www.tceq.texas.gov/permitting/wastewater/oilandgas.

  • Commissioner Wright Statement from February 9th Open Meeting

    February 09, 2021

    AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright released the following statement after today’s Open Meeting:

    “I know as a Commissioner it is my duty to ensure we are doing everything possible to utilize our natural gas as a reliable energy source. I also know flaring exception requests have been allowed for a host of reasons, including system failures, emergencies, and pipeline issues when equated to its economic viability. I realize the practice of obtaining two-year flaring exceptions have become expected for those reasons and that decisions by our Producers have been based on the ability to obtain these lengthy exceptions.

    “It is certainly not my intent to penalize our industry that drives most of our economy here in Texas and I will always make decisions based on what is best for Texas.

    “In this regard, I want to ensure I have the ability to understand each applicant’s issues and thus ensure these applicants continue to do their utmost best to utilize our produced gas as energy.

    “It is again not my intent to change the process midway through when investments made have been made based on our historical actions. I do however want to let staff and the industry know that I intend to continue to explore how we can allow for flaring exceptions due to unforeseen issues while limiting or eliminating the requests for routine flaring. 

    “I stand committed to work alongside the industry and our staff experts to reach this goal and will strive to encourage this henceforth.

    “As you may recall I elected to pass on some of the Statewide Rule 32 exception requests at our last open meeting. I did so in order to familiarize myself with the information we require from applicants when considering their request. As I stated in January, when someone requests an exception to Statewide Rule 32, I want to know if and how they are working to reduce flaring, or what I see as wasting our state’s natural resource.

    “I applaud the staff’s efforts to continue to push for greater transparency on the need to flare and provide that information to us as we continue to work to identify ways, alongside industry, to reduce flaring.

    “Flaring is a necessary last resort during an upset, and we have work to do internally at the commission to ensure that we are not approving requests that go beyond that.

    “To that end, I moved to remand several items for the following reasons:

    “I moved to remand some items to the Hearings Division for the express and limited purpose of reviewing the information in the record to determine the possibility of getting the gas to market and/or if calculations were made to determine if a pipeline could be constructed for less than the amounts asserted by the operator. The proposed Final Orders for these two items collectively state that the operator proposes to flare over $1 million dollars in natural gas because it will be too expensive to build a pipeline; that seems worthy of further investigation.

    “Further, I moved to remand some items to the Hearings Division to investigate why these flaring exceptions over the last four years have increased, some of them dramatically, rather than decreased.

    “Finally, I moved to remand some items to the Hearings Division to further investigate the possibility of either treating the CO2-rich gas and getting it to market, or the safety of attempting to flare the CO2-rich gas if it turns out it cannot be efficiently treated. Since CO2 injection programs are becoming more popular, I personally don’t want this sort of flaring exception authority to become routine.”

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for January 2021

    February 05, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 512 original drilling permits in January 2021 compared to 1,156 in January 2020. The January 2021 total includes 446 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, two to re-enter plugged well bores, and six for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in January 2021 is 101 oil, 39 gas, 353 oil or gas, 13 injection, and six other permits.

    In January 2021, Commission staff processed 583 oil, 104 gas and 66 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 927 oil, 222 gas, and 157 injection completions in January 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link: https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

    TABLE 1 JANUARY 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES NEW OIL COMPLETIONS NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    46

    48

    2

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    49

    48

    20

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    8

    19

    4

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    1

    2

    4

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    0

    1

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    14

    1

    10

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    14

    3

    2

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    29

    72

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    263

    313

    48

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    7

    0

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    6

    13

    1

    (10) PANHANDLE

    9

    2

    0

    TOTAL

    446

    522

    91

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for November 2020

    February 03, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for November 2020 came from 168,923 oil wells and 85,126 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from December 2019 to November 2020, total Texas reported production was 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.3 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 – November 2020: Statewide Production*

    PRODUCT

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    104,462,869 BBLS (barrels)

    3,482,096 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    720,868,629 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    24,028,954 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.


    TABLE 2 – November 2019: Statewide Production

    PRODUCT

    UPDATED REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    UPDATED AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    PRELIMINARY AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    137,025,551 BBLS

    4,567,518 BBLS

    100,561,670 BBLS

    3,352,056 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    905,697,403 mcf

    30,189,913 mcf

    698,644,822 mcf

    23,288,161 mcf


    TABLE 3
    November 2020: Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CRUDE OIL (BBLS)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    14,483,047

    2.

    MARTIN

    10,229,205

    3.

    KARNES

    6,888,823

    4.

    HOWARD

    6,333,219

    5.

    REEVES

    6,079,981

    6.

    UPTON

    5,914,882

    7.

    LOVING

    4,682,272

    8.

    LA SALLE

    3,646,795

    9.

    WARD

    3,502,104

    10.

    GONZALES

    3,268,223


    TABLE 4 – November 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    TOTAL GAS (MCF)

    1.

    REEVES

    81,856,058

    2.

    MIDLAND

    44,557,201

    3.

    WEBB

    44,333,599

    4.

    PANOLA

    37,342,634

    5.

    CULBERSON

    32,600,317

    6.

    LOVING

    29,462,759

    7.

    TARRANT

    25,482,735

    8.

    KARNES

    23,081,094

    9.

    MARTIN

    23,062,207

    10.

    UPTON

    22,125,734


    TABLE 5 – November 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CONDENSATE (BBLS)

    1.

    REEVES

    5,877,920

    2.

    LOVING

    2,873,719

    3.

    CULBERSON

    2,702,456

    4.

    DE WITT

    1,331,828

    5.

    KARNES

    845,881

    6.

    WEBB

    648,767

    7.

    DIMMIT

    281,048

    8.

    LIVE OAK

    273,335

    9.

    WARD

    268,756

    10.

    MCMULLEN

    258,159



January

  • RRC Launches New Website with User-Friendly Enhancements

    January 28, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas unveiled a new website today with a new layout that is easy to navigate and is more task oriented than the previous version.

    The new site is another of the agency’s initiatives to help operators efficiently get what they need and to also help the public easily access the RRC’s trove of information.

    A key change on the new website are menu options at the top of the site that provide a one-stop shop for operators and the public. Examples include:

    • The Resources page (left screenshot below) that includes popular links for research queries, the GIS Viewer, statistics and more; and
    • The Forms page (right screenshot) where operators can access every RRC division and department’s forms for permits or other required filing without having to go to a particular division’s page.
    • The red RRC Applications button at the top right of the website houses applications such as CASES and RRC OIL (for inspection lookups). More innovative applications will be added there as they are released.

    forms page

    “We patiently built the new website to optimize the user experience for operators and the public,” said Wei Wang, the RRC’s Executive Director. “Analytics helped us see the most visited pages and we organized that information in the top menu and on the landing pages of our divisions and departments. All the information that was on our old website is on the enhanced site but presented in a more professional and navigable layout.”

    The landing pages for RRC divisions and departments are marked by icons on the home page (as shown below), and those icons also appear on the left of the screen as you visit different pages.

    A new Events panel on the homepage provides an across-the-board list of events at the agency including trainings, exams, and open meetings. Events and Announcements for a particular division can also be found on each division’s landing page.

    Mobile device users will notice another major benefit of the new website, as tables and associated links fit within mobile screens.

    The RRC will continue to fine-tune the new website based on input. If you use the site often, please familiarize yourself with the new layout at www.rrc.texas.gov.  There is a contact form in the Contact Us menu for users to leave comments or input about the new website.

    Make sure to also check your bookmarks because URLs to some pages have changed on the new website.

    We have also created a helpful video highlighting the enhancements to the website. You can view that video on the RRC’s YouTube Channel at https://youtu.be/dDocusqGT08.

     

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $1.2 million in Penalties

    January 27, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $1,202,243 in fines involving 234 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Jan. 26. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Twenty-eight dockets involved $616,894 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Details on these Master Default Orders can be found here on the RRC website.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $128,499 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $456,850 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Details on all these Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC website here.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Commissioner Wright Statement on Flaring Exceptions

    January 26, 2021

    AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright released the following statement after today’s Open Meeting:

    “During today’s RRC Commissioners’ Conference, I elected to pass on most of the requests for exceptions to Statewide Rule 32 governing flaring permits. Most items that dealt with flaring did not appear to have a clear and concise plan on natural gas utilization, and I wanted more time to review these requests and discuss them with Commission staff. I want to be clear that I do not take these requests lightly as flaring natural gas is a waste of our precious resources.

    “My suggestion to staff going forward, in addition to the requirements for flaring permits, will be to ask two additional questions: The first question will be to require greater detail on the need to flare, and the second will be to inquire about the timeline for sufficient infrastructure to take away gas for market. These questions will help me ensure we are doing our best both economically and environmentally to utilize this resource and for the Commission to better understand production and processing hurdles.

    “There were, however, a few flaring permit requests that I voted to approve. For example, those who have H2S issues or those who have concrete timelines to tie into a gathering system. It is my fear that until we have adjusted Commission rules for instances, such as H2S, excessive amounts of gas will be flared or might otherwise lead to harming human health. You can bet that this is something I will work to address immediately with our staff.

    “Most do not realize the preparations for these permits by both the producers and the staff here at the Commission. My goal is not to burden the process further or apply the rule unevenly; however, we must as the regulating agency and as the industry do our utmost best to utilize our natural resources for energy production, especially in the wake of all the issues we saw in 2020.

    “I know the importance of crude oil production for our dependency and economy, and my fellow commissioners understand this importance as well. Flaring must be allowed until we start to require proper connections before production. To that end, we must make it economically viable to do so by identifying and encouraging new markets for our clean burning natural gas. If not, our crude production will suffer, and we will become more and more dependent on foreign oil.

    “My aim is to require any applicant who applies for authority to flare during my term, to show how and when their production of natural gas will be transported correctly for marketing. I am amenable to allowing fair time for flaring to occur in certain circumstances, but limits must be set.” 

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.

  • Federal Change Will Allow Texas to Lead on Water

    By Commissioner Wayne Christian
    January 21, 2021

    As Texas’ official representative to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), I passed a resolution in May 2018 asking the federal government to identify regulations that should be delegated to the states. In response, I received the suggestion that Texas should request delegation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for oil and gas wastewater from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It quickly became apparent that the best way to obtain this delegation would be to pursue it through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), rather than through my agency, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).

    Instead of playing protectionism over the duties delegated to our agency, my fellow commissioners and I put Texas first and supported legislation at the Legislature that would enable TCEQ to request this authority after our agencies finalized a MOU. 

    There are many political issues facing the oil and gas industry, but perhaps the most significant technical issue is the dilemma on what to do with oil and gas wastewater. Although the Texas oil and gas industry does not use high volumes of water as compared to other key industries on a statewide basis, it is important to further increase our efforts to use water in a sustainable manner.

    With the upcoming change in the White House, many had lost faith that Texas would be able to obtain the NPDES delegation before inauguration. Fortunately, last Friday, the EPA approved Texas’ request to administer this critical program. 

    Although the EPA doesn’t currently allow the discharge of treated produced water into the Waters of the United States, such as rivers and lakes, it is my hope that this change is a big first step towards a future where our state has the legal authority to permit alternatives to the underground injection of wastewater. Creating a regulatory framework that incentivizes the reuse and reintroduction of produced water cleaned to the health and safety standards of the Clean Water Act should be prioritized. 

    It is important for the public to know that just because Texas has this authority doesn’t mean energy producers will be able to just discharge produced water however they see fit. Permittees will have to apply for a permit with the TCEQ and will be subject to very specific requirements and monitoring, using the same standards that EPA uses today.  

    Texas has a great track record with protecting the drinking water Texans rely on. Shortly after I joined the agency, the Railroad Commission conducted an exhaustive review of nearly 63,000 injection-well applications since 1982. The findings of the review confirmed permitted injection wells are not polluting sources of underground drinking water or potential sources of underground drinking water. The study was commended by the EPA.

    This latest delegation from the federal government allows state regulators to do what they do best, continue to protect their constituents while ensuring innovation is not stifled by unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. 

    If we allow municipalities to clean and reuse sewage water, it only makes sense to explore using properly treated water from the oil patch to water cotton in West Texas and potentially even broader uses down the road. As treatment costs decrease and freshwater prices continue to increase, Texas will be thankful it has the flexibility afforded to it by this delegation of authority from the federal government. 


    A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. In June 2019, Christian was elected by his fellow commissioners to lead the agency as Chairman, a position he held until September 2020. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven Sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. In addition to his duties as Commissioner, Christian was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve as the Official Representative of Texas on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics

    For December 2020
    January 08, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 486 original drilling permits in December 2020 compared to 803 in December 2019. The December 2020 total includes 424 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, four to re-enter plugged well bores, and 48 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in December 2020 is 118 oil, 43 gas, 296 oil or gas, 12 injection, and 17 other permits.

    In December 2020, Commission staff processed 493 oil, 77 gas and 116 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 491 oil, 98 gas, and 20 injection completions in December 2019.

    Total well completions processed for 2020 year to date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 14,140 compared to 9,238 recorded during the same period in 2019.

    Recent Information Technology changes are allowing the Commission to report more detailed data on drilling permits and well completions each month. The information in prior year reports may not correlate exactly to the same results on the new report. These technological improvements provide more statistics and transparency, and the new report is available on  the Commission’s monthly drilling completion summaries web page

     

    TABLE 1 DECEMBER 2020 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    40

    45

    6

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    61

    30

    0

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    11

    11

    4

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    9

    0

    1

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    2

    0

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    5

    0

    14

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    16

    3

    1

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    31

    49

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    221

    290

    42

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    8

    3

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    17

    10

    0

    (10) PANHANDLE

    3

    3

    0

    TOTAL

    424

    444

    68

    * A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas here.

  • Railroad Commission Exceeding Goals for Oil and Gas Well Inspections

    January 07, 2021

    AUSTIN – In 2018, the Railroad Commission began work toward the ambitious goal of inspecting every one of the nearly 440,000 oil and gas wells in the state at least once every five years. The agency is well on its way to exceeding its goal again this year.

    One of the Texas Legislature’s performance measures for the RRC tracks the percentage of wells that are uninspected in a five-year cycle. For the 2020-21 biennium the goal is to have that percentage be 5% or less in each fiscal year. The Commission also employs a risk-based approach in determining inspection sites, through which high priority wells and facilities are inspected more frequently than the five-year interval in accordance with the agency’s Oil and Gas Monitoring and Enforcement Plan.

    At the end of fiscal year 2020 only 1% of wells had not been inspected in a five-year cycle. RRC inspectors are well ahead of pace in fiscal year 2021. As shown in the table below in just the first quarter of the fiscal year the Commission already achieved its goal of having less than 5% of wells uninspected, a number that will keep improving as inspections continue for the rest of the year. 

    In the year before instituting the goal to inspect every well at least once in a five-year cycle, 58% of oil and gas wells had not been inspected at that interval. Since the goal was instituted in fiscal year 2018, the agency has exceeded the annual goal each fiscal year.

    Percent of Oil and Gas Wells Not Inspected Within Five Years

    The benefit of the increased frequency of inspections, which determine compliance with Commission rules, has been a broad reduction in the number of violations for oil and gas wells.

    “We have worked diligently toward achieving this goal,” said RRC Director of Field Operations Clay Woodul. “Our inspectors deserve all the credit for this accomplishment, which is even more impressive considering the pandemic we have been dealing with.”

    Technology improvements have allowed the Railroad Commission to become more efficient in utilizing its limited resources. In 2015, the implementation of the ICE reporting system, which is a web-based application and stands for Inspection, Compliance, and Enforcement, gave the agency the ability to track inspections at the well level, rather than by lease. This helped the agency map wells and identify those wells that had not been inspected in the previous five years.

    Field inspectors, who often work in remote parts of the state, were given the ability to file their reports remotely using ICE without the need for an internet connection. Reports are uploaded when a connection is available. Among other features, ICE also provides inspectors with access to comprehensive, real-time data to help them determine compliance while on site, rather than waiting until they return to a district office.

    The Railroad Commission continues to set the bar higher for itself. For fiscal years 2022 and 2023, the agency’s goal is to reduce still further the percentage of wells uninspected in a five-year cycle to below 0.25%.

  • Jim Wright Staff Appointments

    January 06, 2021

    AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright is pleased to announce the names and roles of his personal office staff.

    Kate Zaykowski will serve as Director of Public Affairs, Christopher Hotchkiss will serve as General Counsel, and Megan Moore will serve as Executive Assistant.

    “It’s an honor to have Kate, Christopher, and Megan join my team,” said Commissioner Wright. “We have a lot of work to do, and I know these three will play a critical role in helping me ensure all Texans are aware of and continue to benefit from Texas’ plethora of natural resources. It’s clear we make a great team, and I look forward to working with each of them.”

    Zaykowski has over 10 years of experience in public affairs in both the corporate and public sectors. Most recently, she served as the Director of Public Affairs at Parsley Energy. She has worked at both the state and federal Capitols and earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Texas Tech University and her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in communications.

    Hotchkiss has been practicing administrative energy law for over 15 years. Most recently, he was in private practice, focusing almost exclusively on Commission matters. Additionally, he formerly served the Commission as a Staff Attorney in the Enforcement Section, and as an Administrative Law Judge in the Hearings Division, presiding over surface mining as well as oil and gas cases. Hotchkiss earned his Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law and earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas.

    Moore joins the team with several years of organizational experience. She is a graduate of Texas State University with a degree in anthropology.

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.

  • An Assault from All Fronts on Energy Independence

    Opinion - By Commissioner Wayne Christian
    January 05, 2021

    AUSTIN – Last month, the French government pressured Engie – a company that delivers natural gas to homes and businesses all over France – to call off or delay a 20-year, $7 billion contact with a Houston-based company called NextDecade to export Texas natural gas (1). Apparently, the French are concerned Texas gas is too dirty.

    This misplaced concern about emissions will do more harm than good. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy summed it up well when he recently stated that “cutting production in the U.S. only to see that demand met by dirtier producers elsewhere in the world results in more pollution and more environmental damage. Instead, we should be promoting cleaner production here at home.” (2)

    I couldn’t agree more. France is going to have to get their natural gas from somewhere, and wherever it is it’s going to cause more harm to the environment and geopolitics. France may get its natural gas from Iran, which has dangerous nuclear ambitions and has threatened to blow up Israel several times. Or they could turn to Russia who has dangerous ambitions and invaded Crimea just a couple years ago. Or they could look to the Middle East, a region not exactly well known for its respect of Western legal traditions.

    America, on the other hand, leads the world in the production of clean, affordable energy. In August, my agency, the Railroad Commission of Texas, announced that less than a half percent of the gas produced in Texas was flared or vented, meaning 99.5% went to beneficial use.  Nationally, the six major air pollutants monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have fallen 73 percent since 1970, while our economy grew 262 percent and our population by 60 percent. (3)

    As you can see, despite the claims of the sensationalist, fake-news media, the environment in America is getting better, not worse. At the same time, prior to the pandemic, we were producing more oil and natural gas domestically than any time in history, creating jobs, helping our economy, and bringing us national security in the form of energy independence.

    Unfortunately, environmental extremists are seeking to undo these tremendous gains on every front. We all know about their efforts politically on the national level with proposals like the Green New Deal, fracking bans, carbon taxes, and the Paris Climate Accord, which President-Elect Joe Biden plans to rejoin. This would be a tremendous mistake. The accord carries sky-high costs with very low benefits and unfairly imposes a double standard based on unproven assumptions and climate models that are wrong nearly all the time.

    According to a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the cost of the Paris Climate Accord to the American economy is steep. The agreement will cost American workers 6.5 million jobs and $3 trillion in economic growth by 2040 (4). The justification for killing millions of American jobs and causing trillions of dollars of damage to our economy is the potential decrease of global temperatures by 0.17 degrees Celsius by 2100 – and that is only if the Paris Accord is implemented perfectly. The Paris Climate Accord is a classic example of what happens when policy is based on politics disguised as science. At the same time the economic devastation of these policies threatens our ability to safeguard against our naturally dangerous climate and other threats our modern machine-based civilization protects us against – provided we can fuel it with affordable energy.

    Radically environmentalists aren’t stopping at fighting for increased regulation and unfair treaties. They are coming for your retirement account as well vis-à-vis Environmental, Social, and Governance investing, the new “woke” way to save money. It is an investment strategy whereby an individual investor or financial products, such as mutual funds, invest assets in equity of a company or financial products that are subjectively considered environmentally and socially conscious.

    In practice, this strategy has caused the divestiture of assets from oil and gas production companies. The goal of ESG investing is to deprive legitimate companies with widely used products and services from necessary capital investment because they, in the opinion of some, cause some indirect or amorphous social harm. ESG investing could cause record bankruptcies in the U.S. energy sector, destroying millions of high-paying jobs and American energy independence. All without removing any of the environmentally harmful energy produced by state-owned companies directed by tyrannical governments.

    ESG investing is growing quickly. From 2016 to 2018, ESG funds in the U.S. increased 44 percent from $8.1 trillion to $11.6 trillion (5), which represents one in four U.S. dollars under professional management. This is despite a Pacific Research Institute study last year that found the S&P 500 outperformed a broad basket of ESG funds over a decade by nearly 44% (6).

    Terrible climate accords, bad investment decisions, and contract cancellations – this is what radical environmentalism gets us. It may have been just one contract of one company in France. But what is happening with Engie – and the thought process underlying it – is emblematic of what is happening everywhere. Natural gas is clean, reliable, and affordable – why is that no longer good enough?

    1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609
    2. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/10/30/why_oil_must_remain_part_of_our_future_144558.html?fbclid=IwAR0gBjwaHXSMjKj6UGGn84E8_sZDj1cDBT7eoh44OW6RVpiHGlblXP3U6MA
    3. https://cleanairact.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2019-StATS-Report-April-2019.pdf
    4. https://www.uschamber.com/press-release/new-report-examines-costs-us-industrial-sector-obama-s-paris-pledge
    5. https://www.ussif.org/files/US%20SIF%20Trends%20Report%202018%20Release.pdf
    6. https://ipfiusa.org/2020/11/17/in-case-you-missed-it-the-department-of-labor-has-issued-a-finalized-rule-on-esg-investing-in-erisa-pension-plans/

     

    A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. In June 2019, Christian was elected by his fellow commissioners to lead the agency as Chairman, a position he held until September 2020. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven Sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. In addition to his duties as Commissioner, Christian was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve as the Official Representative of Texas on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren.

  • Jim Wright Sworn in as New Railroad Commissioner

    January 04, 2021

    AUSTIN – Jim Wright was sworn-in as the 51st Railroad Commissioner of Texas today. The lifelong South Texan joins a three-member Commission in leading an agency that is more than a century old.
    The RRC plays a major role in oversight and regulation of the oil and gas industry – an industry that has been the backbone of the state economy and plays a vital role in keeping energy costs low for Texans while also helping pave the way for the nation’s energy independence.

    “Oil and natural gas will make up the majority of our nation’s energy for decades to come and it is best for our state, our nation and the world if that energy is produced right here in Texas,” said Wright. “As commissioner, I will work to streamline enforcement and increase transparency at the Commission, with the ultimate goal of creating a sustainable and dependable lifestyle for all Texans supported by our state’s abundant natural resources.”

    The RRC has a staff of about 850 employees in Austin and district offices across Texas.

    Wright’s next open meeting as commissioner is scheduled for Jan. 6.

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.





Commissioners